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Spezza's goal lifts Senators past Habs

by John Kreiser
Jason Spezza and Nick Foligno were jumping for joy. The rest of the Ottawa Senators and their fans had to settle for merely celebrating another victory.

It was hard to say who jumped higher – Foligno after scoring his first NHL goal in the second period of Thursday night’s game against Montreal … or Spezza, whose first goal of the season was the game-winner in Ottawa’s 4-3 victory at Scotiabank Place ( 700K ).

Spezza had 11 assists in the Senators’ first seven games, but was scoreless until he stuffed Daniel Alfredsson’s rebound past Carey Price with 6:45 remaining in regulation, just 24 seconds after Montreal’s Alexei Kovalev had tied the score.

“It feels good to get the game-winner and get it out of the way," said Spezza, who had points in each of Ottawa’s first seven games. When the puck went into the net, Spezza thrust his fist in the air and hurled himself toward the glass as the crowd of 20,019 erupted.

“I felt like I've played well, I got points in every game, but it felt good to score the goal,” he said after Ottawa improved to an NHL-best 7-1-0. “I'd be lying if I said it didn't. To get it right after they scored, I was desperate to get it."

Foligno, whose father, Mike, scored 355 goals, got the first of his NHL career at 4:00 of the second period, then celebrated with the same two-footed leap his dad made famous.

“I don't know how he did it so many times. I was a little sore after,” the 19-year-old said. “Hopefully, there will be many more to come.”

It was the second straight painful loss for Montreal (2-2-2).

The Canadiens dropped a 2-1 shootout to Florida on Tuesday after surrendering the tying goal in the final seconds.

“We came back really hard when we were down," coach Guy Carbonneau said. “You can't afford to make mistakes. We had control of the puck in our zone and we gave it to probably the most dangerous guy (Alfredsson).”

Flyers 4, Devils 0 | 700K
Philadelphia is quickly removing all doubts that it’s a contender again.

The Flyers improved to 5-1-0 as Martin Biron stopped 38 shots for his second straight shutout as Philadelphia shut out New Jersey at the Wachovia Center for the first time in the building’s 11-year history.

Biron held the Devils off the scoreboard in the first, when New Jersey outshot the Flyers 15-2, before Philadelphia got goals by Mike Richards, Sami Kapanen and Jim Dowd against a shaky Martin Brodeur in the middle period. Biron became the first Flyer goalie since Brian Boucher in 2001 to put up back-to-back shutouts.

“I guess that’s a good thing,” said Biron. “As a team we have played pretty solid defensively the last two games and it definitely feels good. They changed their style of play a little bit by being a little bit more aggressive along the boards, especially with their defensemen, and it kind of caught us by surprise in the first period.”

It was the first shutout by the Flyers against the Devils in Philadelphia since 1987, when they played at the Spectrum. Biron has stopped the last 82 shots he’s faced over 137:22.

“Marty has been just terrific. There is no question that he exudes confidence in our hockey team,” coach John Stevens said. “He is never rattled. Even when we are getting barraged there in the first period you don’t see any frustration in him or what is going on. It looks like it’s just business as usual for him.”

Biron’s best save came when he smothered John Madden’s breakaway in the final seconds of the second period.

''I'm not taking anything from the goalie whatsoever, I thought he played well for them,'' Devils coach Brent Sutter said after game 7 of his team’s nine-game road trip. ''But at the same time, we didn't do enough around the net. And yet we played a pretty good hockey game all in all.''

Islanders 5, Capitals 2 | 700K
Bill Guerin was getting a little concerned about not getting a goal in his first six games as an Islander. He’s not worried any more – not after getting his first three in the same game at the Verizon Center.

Guerin got his first goal as an Islander in the second period, then added a pair in the third after Bryan Berard broke a 2-2 tie midway through the period.

“It took a little while longer than I wanted,” Guerin said after his ninth career hat trick. “Getting that first one got the monkey off my back. I could be myself instead of pressing so much.”

The Isles led 2-0 after two periods, but Washington tied it within the first seven minutes of the third on goals by Alexander Ovechkin and Tomas Fleischmann. Berard’s power-play goal at 9:39 broke the tie before Guerin’s goals provided insurance.

"We bent a little bit in the third period, but Rick (DiPietro) made some big saves when they needed to be made," Isles coach Ted Nolan said after his team ended a two-game slide.

"Hopefully, we'll get going now."

Bruins 4, Lightning 1 | 700K
The Bruins historically have done well in home openers and against Tampa Bay. Neither of those trends changed as Boston downed the Lightning in its opener at the TD Banknorth Garden.

Tim Thomas had 35 saves and Marco Sturm scored twice as the Bruins won their first home game under coach Claude Julien after going 3-2-0 on a swing through the Pacific Division.

Not that the new coach was thrilled with his team’s performance.

''It wasn't a pretty win,'' Julien said. ''Certainly not to the expectations that we want.”

The Bruins improved to 43-20-20 in home openers and are 20-2-6 against the Lightning in Boston.

The line of Martin St. Louis, Vincent Lecavalier and Vaclav Prospal, which had 17 points in the Lightning’s last four games, did not score. Brad Richards scored Tampa Bay’s only goal in the opening period.

“He was the difference,” St. Louis said of Thomas. “Our effort was there, but we just couldn't get that second goal.”

Thomas was especially strong in the second period, when Tampa Bay outshot the Bruins, 15-3 but couldn’t beat him.

''We outplayed them in the second period, but Thomas made a lot of good saves and looked sharp,'' Richards said.

Maple Leafs 3, Panthers 2 | 700K
If Toronto coach Paul Maurice had a vote, the crowd at the Air Canada Centre would have gotten one of the game’s three stars after the Maple Leafs rallied to beat Florida.

The Leafs trailed 2-0 after the first period, but Maurice credited a “Go Leafs Go” chant for helping his team rally.

''I really felt they had an impact on the game,'' he said.

Jason Blake and Bryan McCabe scored in the second period to tie the score, and Nik Antropov won it by scoring with 27.6 seconds remaining in regulation.

“I was just in the right position at the right time,” Antropov said. “We needed it, and fortunately we won.”

Antropov’s game-winner followed a non-call after Leafs defenseman Ian White dropped his gloves and tried to goad Jozef Stumpel into a fight. Stumpel refused as Florida defenseman Jay Bouwmeester nearly beat goaltender Vesa Toskala. The Leafs scored on the return rush.

“He dropped the gloves and I didn't,” Stumpel said. “I thought we were going to get a power play.”

Flames 4, Kings 3 | 700K
The Flames came home looking like they were suffering from a hangover after blowing a four-goal lead in Colorado on Tuesday night, falling behind 2-0 midway through the first period. But Daymond Langkow set up Kristian Huselius’ goal six seconds before the end of the first period, then scored twice in Calgary’s three-goal second period.

“Even though we got down by two early, we showed a lot by coming back to win,” said

Langkow, whose first goal was the 200th of his career. "Right now, we've got to concentrate and focus on our defensive play.”

The personal milestone was nice, added Langkow, but the victory was better.

“The win is definitely the icing on the cake, that's what you play for,” he said. "The other stuff is just a bonus.”

So do the Kings, who got two goals from Anze Kopitar but continue to struggle to keep the puck out of their net.

They trailed 4-2 after two periods, cut the margin to one goal on Kopitar’s 5-on-3 power-play goal with 8:20 left, but couldn’t get the equalizer.

“I think we played a good game, started out with the lead, but we made a couple mistakes, bad penalties, that they capitalized on,” Kings coach Marc Crawford said.

Oilers 4, Coyotes 2 | 700K
Edmonton snapped a four-game losing streak thanks to a tie-breaking circus shot by Raffi Torres with 8:05 remaining in regulation.

The Coyotes had tied the game at 8:11 on Michael Zigomanis’ backhander. But on a rare Edmonton rush, Phoenix goalie Alex Auld kicked Alex Hemsky's shot from the slot into the left circle. Torres, skating away from the goal, reached back over his left shoulder and swept the puck off Auld's left pad and into the net to break a 2-2 tie.

“We're reading off each other. Everybody is focusing in here, trying to make plays instead of throwing it away,” Torres said. “I think we're doing a great job, especially (Hemsky) holding on to it.”

Shawn Horcoff added an empty-netter as the Oilers ended a four-game losing streak despite being outshot, 41-18. Dwayne Roloson made 39 saves.

“Our effort was solid,” Coyotes coach Wayne Gretzky said. “I like the way we battled from beginning to end. We need to get some of our guys scoring.”

Peter Mueller, the Coyotes’ top pick in the 2006 Entry Draft, got his first NHL goal on a wrist shot at 7:29 of the second period.

Red Wings 4, Sharks 2 | 700K
After four seasons in the AHL, Matt Ellis picked a great time to get his first NHL goal – he broke a 2-2 tie in the third period as Detroit won at San Jose.

Ellis, a solid scorer in the minors who hadn’t gotten a goal in 21 NHL games over the past two

seasons, wasn’t even facing the net when he backhanded a shot that somehow eluded defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic and goaltender Evgeni Nabokov.

“It’s tough to describe the feeling,” the 26-year-old said of his first NHL goal. “I’m just glad I was able to contribute on the scoresheet.”

Coach Mike Babcock also praised Ellis.

“He gets every ounce of potential out of himself,” Babcock said.

Henrik Zetterberg added a goal on a 5-on-3 power play and Chris Osgood finished with 23 saves for the Wings, who bounced back after a loss in Anaheim on Monday.

“This was real important,” Babcock said of the victory. “It’s so easy for momentum to go the wrong way.”

Mike Greer and Jonathan Cheechoo scored for the Sharks, who were facing the Wings for the first time since Detroit beat them in the second round of the playoffs last spring.

Material from wire services and team Web sites was used in this report

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